By Sean Kennedy
Columbia 74, Pennsylvania 55
With little to play for down the stretch of this disappointing season, Penn’s quality of play has gone down, and so has their place in the standings. A blowout defeat to Columbia marked the Quakers’ third-straight loss, and 6th in their last 7th games. The Lions’ leading scorer Alex Rosenberg had a big game with 22 points in 27 minutes, hitting 3 of 5 threes and adding 5 rebounds. For Penn, senior Fran Dougherty continues to play hard in his final few collegiate games, as he recorded 16 points and 7 points; Dougherty was the only Quaker to make more than two field goals on the game. They’ll travel to Cornell next to try and complete the season sweep against the Big Red.
2:00 PM: Temple (8-21, 3-14 AAC) @ South Florida (12-18, 3-14 AAC) – ESPN News
The Owls close out the regular season in South Florida, with the loser of this finale earning the distinction of finishing last in the first-ever season of the American Athletic Confernce. The winner of this afternoon’s game will face UCF in the first round of the conference tournament, while the loser will have a date with Rutgers in addition to having the distinction of being the conference doormat. Having already booked the worst season in school history, I’m sure Temple has no interest in adding a last-place finish to this season’s resume. The Owls dropped a game at home to South Florida last month, with the Bulls’ leading scorer Victor Rudd going off for 23 points. Despite South Florida having lost 7 straight games, if the Owls don’t pull things together defensively, they might find themselves in the cellar.
2:00 PM: Villanova (27-3, 15-2 Big East) vs. Georgetown (17-12, 8-9 Big East) – Fox Sports 1
With a Big East regular season title already under their belt and a 5-game winning streak underway, the Wildcats look to keep things rolling when the host the Hoyas. Villanova is currently projected as a 2nd seed in the conference tournament, and could even slide up to a 1-seed if they continue their winning ways and a couple teams slip up in their conference tournaments. The first meeting between these two clubs was a sloppy affair and the Wildcats hope their pressure defense forces as many Georgetown turnovers this time around. Senior guard Markel Starks dropped 20 points in that contest, as he and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera lead the Hoyas at 17 ppg apiece. But with the Wildcats back in the Pavilion, they should finish out a perfect season on their home court and keep building momentum for the postseason.
2:30 PM: Drexel (16-13, 8-8 CAA) vs. Northeastern (10-20, 7-9 CAA) [CAA tournament]
It’s now or never time for the Dragons as conference tournament play begins. Drexel has overcome a host of injuries this season to stay afloat in the Colonial, but they’ll need to string a few wins together to fulfill their dream of reaching the Big Dance. That journey starts against a Northeastern team against whom they’ve played two instant classics. Just last game in the regular season finale, Drexel collapsed down the stretch to lose by 2 in the final minute. That result followed the first meeting between the teams that saw the Dragons prevail in double overtime.
Northeastern lost in the conference title game last season, but will have a much tougher road to return there this time around. If they’re going to do so, it will be behind the play of transfer Scott Eatherton, a stretch-four averaging 15.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg, and 1.8 bpg on the year. Eatherton notched double-doubles in both games against Drexel this season, and was honored with the CAA defensive player of the year award and second team all_CAA. He’s joined on the second team by Drexel’s Chris Fouch, who averaged 28.5 ppg in the two games against Northeastern. Meanwhile, Frantz Massenat was awarded a spot on the 1st-team all-CAA, as those two seniors look to carry Drexel on their backs. Even with the injuries, Drexel still feature a deeper squad than a Northeastern club that doesn’t have much outside of Eatherton. Expect the Dragons to advance and have a third-and-deciding showdown of the season against the Blue Hens.
7:00 PM: Pennsylvania (7-19, 4-8 Ivy) @ Cornell (2-25, 1-12 Ivy)
Sorely in need of a victory, the Quakers could ask for no better opponent against which to pull that off than the Big Red. Cornell has lost 6 straight and just fell to Princeton at home by 40 points last night. Penn already defeated Cornell at home this season as Tony Hicks had a big game with 27 points and 7 assists. With the second-worst defense in the country, it would not be surprising to see Cornell allow the Quakers to put up some big numbers once again. This game should provide one last highlight for Penn fans in a season featuring too few of them.